As I type this, my face stings. Tonight, cycling home and just a few minutes from my front door, a young boy ran across the main road in front of me and fired a tennis ball directly into my face. I wobbled. I hurt. I was rather stunned. Thankfully there was no serious damage, just a jolt, and a reminder.
Oddly, the ball in my face was timely. I was cycling home in a rush, feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the unending list of things that I need to do, still buzzing from Trailblaze last night (more on this soon), but with a tired in my body that just wants me to have a decent sleep.
Tomorrow however we launch Street Feast and the list is important. The ball in my face made it even more so. It woke me up again to ‘Why’. The why it is I do what I do.
When it comes to Street Feast it is pretty simple really. I don’t want to live in a community where I’m fearful to cycle down my street. I don’t want to live in a community in which 10 year old boys think it is acceptable to knowingly and intentionally fire tennis balls at passer-bys. I don’t want to live in a society in which violence is viewed as entertainment, and passivity to violence taken as a given out of fear of more violence (that boy certainly did not expect my reaction tonight, when I followed him and asked him to explain why he just did what he did!) I don’t want gangs of 10 year old growing up thinking this is a good way to live.
What happened to me this evening was a small thing but it can also be viewed as a microcosm for a much larger issue. Why is it that we learn to treat each other with distain, with fear, with distance? We learn it, because we allow it. But I know we can learn other ways too. Better ways. Ways that keep us together rather than apart and ways that can forge better futures for how we convene in community. And at minimum, I know we can come up with better ways to keep those 10 year olds entertained, ones that don’t mean resorting to taunting cyclists or misusing tennis balls!
Which brings me back to Street Feast. It is such a simple idea. Go outside. Meet your neighbours. Share stories. Share food. Share ideas. Share smiles. Get to know their names. Their stories. When this happens, it has ripple effects. In small ways things start to change. People wave at each other. People start to look out for each other. People start to see connections where they may not previously have seen them. The community becomes a nicer place to live. A safer place. A friendlier place. It is in these communities that I want to live, and so I believe it is up to each one of us to make it so. Street Feast is just a little piece of the jigsaw, but I’ve no doubt it can help to make things click, good things, important things. Which in turn brings me back to my list and reminds me that I better go and tick a few things off it…
So if you are about Dublin city centre tomorrow, come join our launch. Details below. And more to be revealed in the morning! What fun….